Arrui (Sp), Mähnenschaf (G), Mouflon à manchettes (F). Also called arui (Arabic). "Aoudad" seems to be an anglicization of its Tunisian name udad, and is a better name than Barbary sheep, because this animal is not really a sheep, and is found in many parts of northern Africa besides the former Barbary States or Barbary coastal region. The name "Barbary" originates from the Berber people, the chief inhabitants of the region.
DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 36-40 inches (91-102 cm). Weight 200-250 pounds (90-115 kg).
The aoudad is a medium-sized mountain animal that is biologically intermediate between a goat and a sheep. It is strongly built, with a short mane on neck and shoulders and long flowing hair on throat, chest, forelegs and tail. The general color is sandy brown, with underparts paler. As in goats, the aoudad has a scent gland beneath the tail, but does not have glands between the hoofs, in the groin area or in front of the eyes. Its chromosome number is 58, which is the same as in the urials, but is different from the 60 that is universal in true goats. Aoudads will hybridize with domestic goats, but not with sheep. The horns (both sexes) are sheep-like, being smooth, thick, triangular in section, and curved to form a semi-circle over the neck (supracervical horns). Females are much smaller than males and lighter in color, with less hair and much smaller horns.
BEHAVIOR Usually lives in small family groups with an adult male. Old males and pregnant females may be solitary. Breeds mainly from September to November, but there is some activity throughout the year. A single young (often two) is born 5-1/2 months later. Newborns are able to get about in moderately rugged terrain almost at once, and are sexually mature at about 18 months. Females have been known to give birth twice in one year. Captives have lived as long as 20 years.
Feeds early morning and late afternoon, resting in shade at midday. Eats grasses and foliage, sometimes standing on its hind legs to browse. Drinks water where available, otherwise obtains moisture from its food. Will descend from rocky terrain in evening to feed on plains. Eyesight and hearing are very good, sense of smell is good. Alert and wary. An agile climber and jumper.
HABITAT Rocky mountains and desert hills.
DISTRIBUTION Desert hills and mountains of northern Africa from Morocco and Mauritania eastward to Libya and Chad. Also in northeastern Sudan. Believed extinct in Egypt.
Has been introduced on private ranches in South Africa, which is far outside its natural range, and also in Spain, Mexico and the United States.
REMARKS The aoudad is a superb game animal that is difficult to hunt under almost any circumstances.
TAXONOMIC NOTES Five extant subspecies are listed: angusi (Niger), blainei (Libya, Sudan), fasini (Libya, southern Tunisia), lervia (Morocco, northern Algeria, northern Tunisia), and sahariensis (western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, southern Algeria, southern Libya, Chad). Their limits are unclear and we do not separate them. A sixth subspecies, ornatus, formerly occurred in Egypt, but is believed extinct.
STATUS The aoudad may never have been common in northern Africa because of its limited habitat in the desert environment. In recent years, its numbers have been reduced in many places from overhunting by local people, to whom it represents an important source of meat, skins and other parts; however, it is believed to still occur in much of its original range. To the best of our knowledge, Chad and Sudan are the places it can be hunted today in its natural range.